Planning and Development Surveyor

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Development surveyors work to increase the value of land by overseeing the development of property. Planners work to gain planning permission for property developments.

The title of planning and development surveyor covers a wide range of roles and responsibilities. To refer to specific roles within planning and development, employers may use titles such as ‘planner’, ‘surveyor’ and ‘property developer’. There is some crossover between these titles and differences between these job roles can be a grey area. In a property firm, planners and property developers will usually work in the same department.

The majority of planners work in either the public sector or the private sector. The role of planners in the private sector, at its most basic level, is to gain planning permission for developments. Planners will consider a range of environmental, social, design, sustainability and viability concerns when advising clients and colleagues on actions that can be taken to be granted planning permission.

Planners working in the public sector are responsible for putting planning policies in place and deciding whether developments will be granted planning permission.

A development surveyor is a surveyor who works in property development. Development surveying is a specialisation of the commercial/residential/rural surveyor job role. Surveyors work to realise the value of land and development surveyors do this by overseeing the process of turning a piece of land into real estate with fully operational buildings. Property developers need to be able to see the potential uses of a piece of land and act to buy, develop and sell this land. Developers working within a property firm will typically work with clients, advising them on how to develop their property. Property developers can also work for property development firms where they will work on developing the property that the firm itself owns.

Typical responsibilities for planners and development surveyors can include:

  • overseeing property developments from empty plots of land to fully operational buildings

  • researching the local property market

  • evaluating development plans, taking into consideration a range of legal, social, financial and environmental factors

  • advising clients and colleagues about how developments can be granted planning permission

  • preparing and submitting applications for planning permission

  • preparing maps and reports

  • analysing changes in planning policy and law that may affect property development

  • liaising with architects, builders, engineers and other construction professionals

  • measuring and valuing land and property

  • visiting property sites in order to keep track of developments

  • communicating and meeting with clients and colleagues


Qualifications and training


Depending on the employer, you may join a graduate scheme that rotates graduates around different departments in order to gain the competencies needed for chartership. Alternatively, you could join a scheme where you specialise within a single department, and the employer will make sure you experience a wide enough range of work in order to become chartered. In the public sector, local authorities advertise for entry level graduate jobs in planning and may sponsor your professional body membership and chartership qualification.

It is also possible for school leavers with A levels or highers to become surveyors through an apprenticeship, which will last five or six years and will include completing a degree.


Key skills for planners and planning and development surveyors


  • The ability to work on multiple projects at the same time

  • Strong analytical skills and attention to detail

  • A willingness to travel and spend time out of the office

  • Negotiation and relationship building skills

  • The confidence to voice perspectives and opinions regardless of how well they are received

  • The ability to balance competing viewpoints and interests

  • Good communications skills and the ability to work well with a wide array of people

  • Interest in the local area and an understanding of the importance and potential consequences of property development


Typical employers


  • Property firms

  • Housebuilders

  • Planning consultancies

  • Property developers

  • Local planning authorities

  • Central government departments

  • Organisations that require property to be managed and developed (such as infrastructure companies or airports)

  • Charities that require up-to-date knowledge of planning and property regulations


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